Thursday, March 18, 2010

Remainders: More Radio Cover Art

January's post featuring cover art from books about radio was so much fun, I thought I'd share some more visually interesting pieces that didn't make the first cut. As in the previous post, the bulk of these titles are from the 1930s to the 1940s, with only a few from the 1950s and 1960s.
Radio's finest hours (and months and years) were during World War II, and these books of radio plays and accounts of how radio broadcasting contributed to Allied victory offer up some proof.
Star Spangled Radio: Radio's Part in World War II (1947)
By Edward M.Kirby and Jack W. Harris
Kirby and Harris are long on anecdotes and short on citations, and the whimsical cover art lets the reader know that this will likely be the case.
War Words (1943)
By W. Gabell Greet
Americans began hearing about some strange and exotic places, circa 1939, as World War II got underway in Europe and the Far East. Thanks to this book and others like it, even the most remote radio announcer had a fair shake at pronouncing the toughest names of places, generals and dictators.

This Is War! (1942)
By Norman Corwin and others
The proud stripes of a wind-ruffled American flag fill the sky, as Allied bombers fly overhead and a tank makes its way into enemy territory for the cover of this collection of war-related radio plays.
On A Note Of Triumph (1945)
By Norman Corwin
Flames burn before a wall of vanquished white on the cover of this copy of Norman Corwin's V-E Day radio play.
The brilliant marketing and communications minds at CBS produced some of the most visually stunning graphics of the war years for the covers of promotional publications. Nearly each crisis and each victory on the battlefield was followed with a print piece describing how CBS coverage brought the news home to America.
Vienna March, 1938: A Footnote for Historians from the Columbia Broadcasting System (1938)
By CBS News
A chilling account of the Anschluss, with Warhol-esque graphics that capture the menacing nature of the Nazis.
Crisis: A Report from the Columbia Broadcasting System (1938)
By CBS News
As the Munich Crisis unfolded and war was averted for another year, CBS (and in particular, H.V. Kaltenborn) went to unprecedented lengths to cover the fast-breaking news. This handsome hardcover edition made sure that no one forgot.
CBS News on D-Day (1944)
By CBS News
While not complex enough to be called a book and too simple to be called a pamphlet, this internal account of CBS' coverage of D-Day nonetheless carries a stark yet effective two-color title. It seems to say that though victory is not yet secured, an important battle has been won (that is, CBS has beat NBC for the hearts and minds of America's radio listeners).

From D-Day Through Victory in Europe (1945)
By CBS News
This paperback book was produced within weeks of the end of the war in Europe, and its simple, clean graphics hit the right tone of victory without overconfidence (as the war was still raging in the Pacific).

From Pearl Harbor Into Tokyo (1945)
By CBS News
Another quickly produced title, this time on the heels of Total Victory.
CBS triumphed over NBC in World War II, with more CBS correspondents becoming household names and more making the leap to post-war television. Who nowadays (besides the vigilant scholar or OTR nut) can name any of NBC's wartime announcers or newsmen?

H Hour - 1944 (1944)
By NBC News
NBC's promotional account of D-Day coverage--coverage which some believe was superior to that of CBS, since, unlike CBS, NBC didn't go back to regular daytime programming (soap operas) on June 6.
Radio was an attractive career choice in the 1930s and 1940s, and there was no shortage of books for those interested in learning how-to "radio."
Radio News Writing and Editing (1946)
By Carl Warren
All the icons of broadcasting are present on this cover: typewriter, RCA 44 microphone, household receiver and towering antenna.

Radio News Writing (1947)
By William F. Brooks
From NBC's series of books about radio, this book lays it all out in a bold paragraph right there on the front cover (THIS IS A BAD SCAN THAT I WILL REPLACE!).

Professional Radio Writing (1948)
By Albert F. Crews
Another giant RCA 44 microphone (plus a teeny one down below) all superimposed on a page of a script make it ultra-clear what this book is all about.

Pointers on Radio Writing (1940s)
By Josephina Niggli
I love the unusual color of this otherwise unremarkable book.

NBC Handbook of Pronunciation (1943)
By James F. Bender
You didn't have to work for NBC to speak as if you did, thanks to this 1943 pronunciation guide, including "names and places in the war news commonly mispronounced."
How To Write For Radio (1940s)
By James Whipple
You have to look closely to see the teeny-yet-ubiquitous RCA 44 microphone.

Handbook of Radio Production (1940s)
By Erik Barnouw
Radio uber-historian Erik Barnouw authored several books about radio production in the 1940s, including this very official looking guide.

Dos and Don'ts of Radio Writing (1930s)
By Ralph Rogers
I love the clean simplicity of this cover, with its carbon arc microphone and thoroughly modern font. A timeless design that could have been published yesterday (if anyone was still publishing books about radio writing.
Printed editions of radio plays became big sellers in the early 1940s, as works by Norman Corwin, Arch Oboler, Stephen Vincent Benet and others became hot publishing commodities.
Oboler Omnibus (1940s)
By Arch Oboler
An unusual photo-collage cover from the 1940s.
There aren't too many well-known novels that use the radio industry as a main setting, but three came out around the same time in the mid-1940s that had many critics scratching their heads at the similarities in plot, character development and dark tone. The Hucksters; Please Send Me, Absolutely Free; and Aurora Dawn all feature disillusioned men making their way in the seamy world of advertising and media, and all have covers worth a second look.

The Hucksters (1946)
By Frederic Wakeman
Wakeman's novel came out first (among the three), and reads like a prequel to Mad Men. The cover is 100% Gothic Gotham, with towering office buildings and taxi cabs cocked like revolvers.
Please Send Me, Absolutely Free (1946)
By Arkady Leokum
Leokum's entry is more about advertising than radio, and its cover feels a bit more hopeful and human-scaled.

Aurora Dawn (1947)
By Herman Wouk
Wouk wrote for several radio shows in the 1940s, and his is perhaps the least dark of the three similar novels.
Of Mikes and Men (1951)
By Jane Woodfin
Jane Woodfin's novel follows a young woman into the radio industry in the late 1920s in what appears to be Portland, Oregon. The cartoonish cover (and several illustrations) are by Paul Galdone.
In the 1960s, books about radio were all about the heroic past, and the cover illustrations made no secret that the glory days had come and gone.

It Sounds Impossible (1960s)
By Sam J. Slate and Joe Cook
The cartoons (or commercial-style illustrations) on the cover of this book feature only what appear to be white men, signaling that it was a look back at what radio had once been.


  1. Hey Feliks. Very nice site, I just found it for the first time.

    We have always loved radio dramas and many of the more popular ones are easy to find online.

    Do you have any online websites/casts that you like or have found?

    Also, I agree with your previous post about HD radio. I have had it for a long time, and absolutely love it, and highly recommend it.

    I have Sirus also, but I still really like the HD radio alot.

  2. Hello Feliks,

    I enjoyed looking at your site and the old cover art. I imagine you know about the wonderful "Old Time Radio" exhibit at the Shoreline Historical Museum and the fight that took place a few months ago to save the museum from destruction by the Shoreline School District?

    Check out the posts frm my blog "Of Paramount Importance" on the museum fight (successful) and also about the radio room and other exhibits.

    Thanks for this cool blog.

    J Way

  3. Here is Of Paramount Importance blog address.